Spencer and Jesse
Screenplay by Ella Farlinger
Impressively mature 17-year-old fashion model, Spencer, and 29-year-old photographer, Jesse, find themselves attracted to one another. With insight and humour, we are told the story of their doomed relationship start to finish from both points of view, illustrating how Spencer and Jesse each grapple with the torments of societal pressure.
SPENCER is basically a grown-up. She graduated high school early and on her year off has been continuing her work as a model while applying for university. The largest obstacle to her adulthood is that she’s seventeen, and the only ones reminding her of this are her parents. ROBERT and LOUISE (both 50s) are close with their daughter but it’s not weird. Just like how Spencer scores pot from her dad and it’s not weird! Spencer’s best friend, CLAUDIA (19), objects to Spencer’s bond with her parents, arguing that it is robbing Spencer of her “rebellious years”.
While posing for a department store ad, Spencer meets JESSE (29), a goofy, slouched hipster, with a Nikon permanently slung over his shoulder. The two hit it off instantly, joking about the pretentiousness of a Hasselblad and the horrid invention that is the leather pant. Spencer finds herself trying to appeal to Jesse, but not in any serious way. He does have a girlfriend. Days later, Spencer runs into Jesse at a gallery opening, and they continue to bond. After texting her parents that she’s out with a girlfriend, Spencer and Jesse ditch the gallery. Dancing at a bar, Spencer gets close to Jesse, but only to avoid the leering of creepy, drunk men. As Jesse walks Spencer home that night, the air is sweetly awkward and filled with excited tension. It’s clear to Spencer that she has a special connection with Jesse, but he isn’t single, and he’s almost thirty. Blocking these barriers from her mind, Spencer kisses Jesse at the end of the night, marking the beginning of a playful partnership that is wrought with the pressures of an age gap couple. Even with the Age of Consent at sixteen, Spencer feels judgement in the court of public opinion and guilt about hiding it all from her parents.
JESSE is not ready to settle down. His girlfriend, RILEY (27), and he have been dating for more than six years, but while living with their roommate ANDREW (29) and with neither of them holding down a stable career, Jesse’s never thought of them as a ‘real’ couple. Things seem to be coming to their natural conclusion with Riley, but they collaborate on one last gig–Riley often works as a stylist while Jesse shoots. Jesse generally tries to avoid working on corporate gigs, hoping to start earning by showcasing his own work, but the money is good in advertising and you get to make connections. One of these connections happens to be with fashion model Spencer.
Fiercely intelligent and charismatic, Jesse is drawn to Spencer. As they grow closer, Jesse realizes that his feelings for Spencer are as more than just friends. Grappling with his break-up with Riley and the deep shame of being attracted to a seventeen-year-old, Jesse is filled with guilt. All of this is washed away, however, when he and Spencer are together, unchallenged by the societal disapproval of their relationship when alone. But it doesn’t circumvent the culpability Jesse feels for long, and after a few weeks of dating, paired with his inability to be sexual with Spencer, it becomes clear to Jesse that their romance cannot continue. When Spencer arrives unannounced for the last time, a cathartic final confrontation ensues.
Producers Jennifer Jonas, Leonard Farlinger and Matt Watts
Developed with the assistance of The Harold Greenberg Fund and Telefilm Canada